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Friday, December 19, 2008

Let Iraq war resisters stay in Canada for Christmas and beyond: Green Party

During the recent federal election, in a packed room in the basement of the Parkdale United Church in Calgary, Dennis Young, a veteran of NATO operations in Bosnia and leader of the Libertarian Party, told U.S. Iraq war resister Chuck Wiley to ignore the critics who call him a coward: “What you have done takes courage,” said Young to a roar of applause.

Later in the election campaign, Liberal Member of Parliament and frustrated leadership prospect Bob Rae reaffirmed his party's support for allowing U.S. conscientious objectors of the Iraq war to take up permanent residence in Canada.

Today, the Green Party is urging Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration to stop the deportation proceedings against U.S. Iraq war resister Cliff Cornell whose proceedings have been moved to December 19th, and to implement the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd to allow all U.S. Iraq war resisters the right to apply for permanent resident status.

During the English-language election Leaders’ Debate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged that the Iraq war "was absolutely an error.” In a surprising reversal, he went on to say “It's obviously clear the evaluation of weapons of mass destruction proved not to be correct. That's absolutely true and that's why we're not sending anybody to Iraq." Green Party Leader Elizabeth May thinks these statements by Harper on Iraq are relevant to the question of whether or not the Iraq war resisters seeking refuge in Canada should be allowed to stay.

“The Green Party demands that Canada adopts the United Nations Handbook on Refugees which clearly states that soldiers who refuse to take part in wars condemned by the international community must be considered refugees,” said May. [The international community may have condemned the war, but did Harper...really?]

“I find it despicable that this government had not only set Cliff’s deportation hearings for Christmas eve, but has now moved to expedite the process to this week,” decried Ben Hoffman, Peace and Security Shadow Cabinet member for the Greens, “It just shows the true nature of this government.”

"Both international refugee law and compassion dictate that Canada offer refuge to those who enlisted in an army based on a fraudulent contract. Cliff Cornell should be allowed to celebrate Christmas in Canada secure in the knowledge he is welcome to stay,” said May.

Did soldiers like Cornell really enlist on the basis of a "fraudulent contract," or did they just change their minds about the war? And what about Chuck Wiley, a 17-year veteran of the military? Wiley served proudly for years, and wasn't part of the so-called poverty draft. Was he tricked into service by the US government? Unlikely.

The issue of contract is central to this discussion, as May suggests, but libertarian scholar Walter Block thinks this is a case of what he calls “contract fetishism” that misses the bigger point: wars of aggression are morally wrong.

“There are things far more important than mere contracts for libertarians -- property rights and the non aggression axiom. If contracts are compatible with these two basic building blocks of libertarianism, then contracts are fine. If they are not, the contracts must be abrogated,” said Block. “...the recipients of all those US bombs never agreed to this ‘contract’," Block concludes.

Ivan Eland, Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty with the Independent Institute, thinks that if the Iraq war resisters in Canada are, in fact, deported they will not receive the relatively warm welcome home enjoyed by Vietnam-era draft resisters who also sought refuge in Canada:

“In Vietnam, people were shanghaied against their will to serve in a pointless war. The people today signed up freely, in one way or another, for military service. They will generate less sympathy because they either wanted a good military career, or in the case of reserve and National Guard personnel, wanted the extra cash, and then when war broke out they changed their minds.  They also knew in advance what would happen if they did change their minds about serving during a war.

It's true that the Iraq invasion was done under false pretences, but that is not the first time that's happened in US history.  Also, down deep, despite all the patriotic hoopla, people who volunteer for the US military know they are signing up less to defend the country than to police the empire.  The interventionist US foreign policy has been going on non-stop since 1947 and has been no secret. Bush is only carrying on a bipartisan tradition.”

While Eland rejects the “fraudulent contract” argument being advanced by the Green Party and other anti-war groups, he nevertheless thinks the Canadian government should demonstrate compassion by not deporting the Iraq war resisters: “I don't think Canada should deport them....people do make mistakes, and conflict over their fate in the US could be avoided if Canada doesn't deport them.”

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 19, 2008 in Military | Permalink


Does May know that her boss, Ignatieff, supported the war?

Does she know that his predecessors made a special secret deal to support the war?

Does she know that the current chief of the defense staff spent 15 months in Iraq commanding US and Coalition troops there, in Canadian uniform, with the blessing of both Liberal and Conservative governments?

Willey, by the way, is a fool. He was three years away from retirement, and he had a safe job on board a carrier far from any combat zone let along Iraq. He should have toughed it out, retired honorably, then let his conscience speak. With his inevitable less than honorable discharge and criminal conviction, he will never be able to work in his field because nuclear engineering requires security clearances. Boo-frickin-hoo.

The Greens must never be taken seriously. They are nothing more than a fringe party.

I hope Mr. Kenney laughs when he signs the deserters' deportation orders. Under national law, these people do not qualify as refugees because they will not face undue or unnecessary hardship if they are returned.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-19 11:40:47 AM

And that's why I cannot support the Libertarian Party. A much more courageous act would be to disobey orders and accept the prison sentence that would ensue. That's the way Thoreau would have done it.

Posted by: Anonymous | 2008-12-19 1:02:26 PM

The libertarian party doesn't stand much of a chance of gaining traction when it's leader refers to the willful reneging of legally signed contracts as "courageous".

As far as the green party goes, they don't seem to be in a position where they can "demand" anything.

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-12-19 1:13:25 PM

I must preface this comment by saying that I do not wish to offend anyone. This is merely an opinion. America has no business in Iraq. Canada has no business dealing with American defectors. The American soldiers were not coerced into joining the military. This was their choice. The problem with making choices is that one has to live with the consequences, good, bad, or otherwise. War resisters are an American problem not a Canadian problem. Are loose immigration policies are a disgrace. Any reason seems to be a good enough reason to enter Canada. This issue is one more example of a far greater underlying problem.

Posted by: Derek Klassen | 2008-12-20 4:30:40 PM


You make a good point. One can object to the war and still support sending the defectors home.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-12-20 4:36:23 PM

If Canada should be a safe haven for US deserters, why not all drug, prostitution and gambling offenders? How about Canada becoming a home for everyone on the planet who chooses to break laws within their own country which are not consistent with (someones opinion of) libertarianism. Think of all the Koreans, Cubans, Zimbabweans (SP?), Chinese, etc............. who could come to Canada. Think of the cultural mosaic. It sounds wonderful.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-12-20 7:36:02 PM

John C- Isn't that already happening?

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-20 8:06:18 PM

I'm torn on this issue as are some of you...
Do I support the war? No. Do I support the troops? Yes.
Do I support desertion based on one's moral objections? Well, now it gets a little more complicated doesn't it?

A soldiers' oath the the Commander in chief ought to be a sacred one. Else how could we rely on them to defend us? Is the war in Iraq an act of defense? I don't think so. Does that change the contract? Even if the commander in chief is an insane globalist power freak?

I just don't know...

I'm partial to people effecting change for their country from within though.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-20 9:00:58 PM

The Iraq war began for what everyone believed was a good reason. A couple of years later we realized that destroying a good part of Iraq had not been necessary, and that Saddam would have been deposed or otherwise shut down or marginalized without invading.

However immoral that agression may have been, what followed was and is a war of defence against Iranian and other forms of Islamic extremism. There is honour in what America is doing for these backward Iraqi peasants, as well as in being a bulwark of civilization for the rest of the western world.

These 'resisters' must not be allowed to change their minds. They are not draft dodgers; they are volunteers. They made a contract, and like any other contract it may not be abrogated unless both sides agree.

Canada should be a LOT more careful about the kind of people we let into our (presently) safe and (mostly)orderly country.

Posted by: Dan Rusen | 2008-12-20 11:08:03 PM

While I do not support military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else, I cannot support allowing AWOL soldiers to use Canada as a safe haven. It sets a horrible precedent, although I acknowledge that the precedent was in fact set during the Vietnam War.

First, there is the matter of the contract. Anyone who signs up for the armed forces agrees to forfeit certain freedoms in exchange for (real or perceived) benefits. One of the risks one takes is that one will be asked to perform duties one does not like.

These people have reneged on their contracts, and that's not something Libertarians should ever support.

Second, there is the question of international law. As far as the United States is concerned, these people are criminals. We have extradition treaties with the United States. Is it really worth annoying our largest trading partner in order to protect a few people who can't keep their word? Would we tolerate the U.S. accepting Canadian soldiers who fled because, say, they didn't want to be posted in Alert?

I doubt it very much.

Finally, there is the matter of the punishment these individuals face.

Will they be beaten or tortured? Put up against a wall and shot? No, they won't.

In most cases they will serve a short sentence in a military prison and then be dishonorably discharged from the armed forces. They will lose the benefits that perhaps enticed them to enlist in the first place, but otherwise they can go about their business.

This is hardly "cruel and unusual" punishment of the sort that would keep Canada from extraditing a wanted person to Iran, for example.

Posted by: George Graham | 2008-12-21 11:32:51 AM

Of course Canada should be open to draft resisters/deserters (as well as all the many more honorable potential workers from many third world countries), but only after they have made penance and paid compensation to the taxpayers of their countries of origin for the crime of being civil servants.

The US no longer has a draft. US soldiers (and Canadian ones too) are nothing but voluntary civil servants who should be given all the respect of similar parasites.

It's good to know that some people have changed their mind and no longer want to live off the people's teat.

But does their effort to become worthwhile members of society deserve greater honor just because of the prior greater sins?

Paul Geddes

Posted by: Paul Geddes | 2008-12-21 1:08:53 PM

Paul, I thought you were a libertarian. And libertarians believe National Defence is a proper function of government.

I agree with George, and others. Deserters who signed up voluntarily surely understood what they were getting into, and that going AWOL was a crime. They should face the music. Draft dodgers are a different case. They are being forced into service against their will.

Posted by: Jim McIntosh | 2008-12-21 8:43:14 PM

As a War Resister myself I would like to point out that a binding contract exists only when two parties agree on a set of conditions mutually. When one party or the other is in breach of that contract, the contract is considered void.

When I personally signed up for service ( and I know of many similar accounts like mine ) I signed up as a driver for artillery. It was still in combat arms, however I was not being trained in anything but the most basics of driving the artillery vehicle I was assigned. I did however receive extensive basic combat skills as well as training in urban combat and illegal searches of homes, where you zip tie innocent people up and load them onto trucks. After learning that I would be doing these sorts of things in Iraq after my training, I knew that I couldn't live knowing I had done that.

That is why I became a resister. Because the United States Government breached the contract they agreed to, by assigning me into a military classification I had not enlisted for, voluntarily.

Posted by: James Stepp | 2008-12-21 11:42:02 PM

Kudos to James for saying no.

I am aghast at the comments here. People sign up for the military to defend their city, country, family, and neighbours. They agree only to defend the Constitution of the United States (not the Commander-In-Chief as some said). They are further bound by the moral obligation to do no harm but in self-defense.

Even if they join voluntarily, they are not obligated to follow whatever orders are given to them. They are human beings, with rights and minds.

This war is illegal under the natural law. It is a war of aggression, occupation, and conquest. President Bush, like many before him, deserves a trial and a life sentence, along with members of his administration. THEY are the ones who should rot in jail, not those who defy their evil agenda. One service our leftist Northern neighbour always provided was an escape for conscientious objectors. Now that's gone, you all might as well join the States. What good is having two federations on this continent if one won't provide relief for the other's excesses?

Look, these guys aren't shirking their duty. The more legitimate the war, the less you see people fleeing to Canada. Less people flee from service in Afghanistan than Iraq. No one fled from World War II, our last quasi-legitimate conflict. As James said, these fellas just don't want to rape and abuse innocents. Does they deserve jail for that?

I say no. These people are doing their duty, and it is your duty to offer them sanctuary.


Posted by: Mike Vine | 2008-12-23 12:14:20 AM

Mike: you're totally wrong about the military oath.

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

They swear to support and defend the Constitution, and to obey the orders of the president and the officers appointed over him. You imply a conflict between the two where none exists. President Bush has acted legally however it may seem otherwise.

The deserters should be returned if they can't meet the burden of proof required for refugees. They must prove that they'd be treated unfairly if returned. So far, none have. Indeed those who convicted desertion received fair punishments, the most serious being a federal conviction and criminal record which will limit their future employment. Fair is fair.

Oh yeah: there were far more desertions in the "Good War" of WWII than in the Iraq War. What about those Americans who went North to serve in WW1 and WW2 before the US did? That stands in direct contrast to Vietnam.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-23 8:09:59 AM

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States
Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-23 8:09:59 AM

Zeb, you make a good point...But!
The Constitution also calls for non intervention in foreign affairs. It can be argued that the invasion of Iraq was completely illegal and that the invasion of Afghanistan was implemented on evidence that was a tad flimsy also. Was Osama really in Afghanistan at the time? We only know what we were told by government, and experience tells us that they don't always tell us the truth.
We know now that the construction of a pipeline through Afghanistan was the beginning of hostilities between Exxon and the US installed Taliban government. We know that major US corporations had a lot invested in having control of said pipeline, (which is to supply fuel to several US owned plants in Pakistan)but the Taliban awarded the construction contract to an Argentinian company.
Its a lot more complicated than the MSM would have us believe.

Anyhow, I don't know if someone in the military who is capable of critical thinking would immediately buy into the occupation efforts of the US in the Middle East.

Just a thought,
Have a good one.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-23 8:28:18 AM

JC: where does the US Constitution prevent intervention in foreign affairs?

Iraq may or may not have been illegal, but the means to decide such rests with - you guessed it - the US and the other four permanent veto powers on the UN Security Council. It will never be, therefore, decided.

Afghanistan was as legal as it gets. That pipeline idea was discarded long ago; it was never a prime motive force for Coalition operations. The terrorists were. Yes, Osama was in Afghanistan at the time. The UN and NATO approved of what has been done there, so there's no point in complaining. Surely the Afghani government would have complained had it been otherwise.

Military people are quite aware of what is going on. Almost all have no conflict between their duty, their conscience and the situation there. Just ask.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-23 8:56:29 AM

ZP: Military people are quite aware of what is going on. Almost all have no conflict between their duty, their conscience and the situation there. Just ask.

I believe that statement would be false. I actually keep in contact with some of my battle buddies, and they also have plenty of issues with the war, and some got lucky and the government abided by their contracts and are not in a combat role. They specifically signed up for those non combat roles because of their issues regarding the legality of the war and the manner in which it is prosecuted. Granted, none of these people have proceeded to go to Canada, however I believe it is because the situation they are in is separate from my own, in that they are not being forced into an infantry role and do not feel sufficiently burdened enough in their non combat role.

This doesn't mean that they are not strongly against the way things are going. Furthermore, in regards to your comment regarding the constitution. That's an excellent point, but what does it have to do with this conversation? We're talking about about how a contract is binding only when both parties uphold their side, and the conditions are met. If the US government is in breach of their conditions set forth in my contract ( which they are ), then the contract is rendered null and void and it would stand to reason that the oath, by association given that it was taken under the assumption that the contract would be upheld, is void as well.

Just some food for thought.

- James

Posted by: James Stepp | 2008-12-23 4:48:19 PM

Furthermore, in regards to your comment regarding the constitution. That's an excellent point, but what does it have to do with this conversation?
Posted by: James Stepp | 2008-12-23 4:48:19 PM

James, Zeb touches on the subject because I brought it up...
Apparently I have some homework to do.

I also have spoken to (3)Canadian soldiers between tours of Afghanistan. I've yet to meet one who's been there that thinks we should stay or wants to go back.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-23 5:13:22 PM

I've met several US servicemen who are eager to go back to Afghanistan or Iraq because they believe in the mission. These deserters are a distinct aberration from the norm.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-23 5:23:34 PM

These deserters are a distinct aberration from the norm.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-23 5:23:34 PM

In contrast, when Ron Paul was still in the running, he recieved more donations from the military with his non intervention policy than all of the other Republican candidates combined.
Go figure huh?

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-23 5:33:11 PM

ZB: I've met several US servicemen who are eager to go back to Afghanistan or Iraq because they believe in the mission. These deserters are a distinct aberration from the norm.

As in all things, there are always two sides to a coin and therefore you will encounter many people for or against. Just because a few people you talk to support the war, means that the majority do.

It also stands to mention that at the beginning of the war 85% of people in Iraq in the 2nd year of the war, surveyed in a USA today poll, believed and greed with the statement that the reason for the war was because of Iraq's connections to AQ and their involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

So once again, not all sources stand as credible, nor does it mean that it invalidates all other sides.

Posted by: James Stepp | 2008-12-23 5:35:21 PM

The legality of the Afghanistan War has never been in serious doubt. While the Iraq War has been questioned, no challenge has ever succeeded. These missions are, as far as the US government and military are concerned, legal, proper and justified. Go figure.

Moreover since neither the UN nor the World Court have ruled on the Iraq War's legality - nor will they ever - the deserters cannot use that. They're going back, like it or not.

Maybe those servicemen who contributed to Ron Paul had other reasons beyond his foreign policy ideas? Like gun ownership? Border control? Lower taxes and smaller government?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-23 5:47:59 PM

Maybe those servicemen who contributed to Ron Paul had other reasons beyond his foreign policy ideas? Like gun ownership? Border control? Lower taxes and smaller government?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-23 5:47:59 PM

Maybe, and thanks Zeb! Always like to get a plug in for those things too. :)

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-23 5:53:46 PM

As James said, these fellas just don't want to rape and abuse innocents. Does they deserve jail for that?
Posted by: Mike Vine | 2008-12-23 12:14:20 AM

What an embarrassment to the United States is this Mike Vine. Don't send us your trash, Mike. Does(sic) we deserve that? You vile putrid BDS sufferer. The U.S. military is the finest military in the world, be proud of them! Just don't expect us in Canada to accept those AWOL'ers who do not want to live up to their obligations.

Posted by: Markalta | 2008-12-23 5:58:41 PM

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